Pennsylvania Car Seat Laws

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According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, car accidents are a top cause of death for children. A child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash every 33 seconds.

Protecting children on the roads is important to families and to all of society. A critical part of child safety is knowing car seat laws.

Our car accident lawyers at Luschas, Naparsteck & Crane, LLP explain Pennsylvania car seat laws.

What are the car seat laws for Pennsylvania?

Car seat laws in Pennsylvania depend on the age of the child:

  • Under 2 years – The child must be in a rear-facing car seat. This seat must be used until the child outgrows the height and weight specifications set by the manufacturer.
  • Under 4 years – The child must be in a car seat
  • 4-8 years – Booster seats are required
  • 8 years+ – Seat belts are required

From birth until the child is two, the child must be in a rear-facing car seat. They must be in an approved seat for the child’s height and weight.

Once the child is two, and they outgrow the manufacturer’s height and weight specifications for their rear-facing car seat, they can use a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

After the child is four years old, the forward-facing car seat may be exchanged for a booster seat. Booster seats are required up to age eight. From age eight and up, the child must use a seat belt.

What is the Pennsylvania car seat law?

Pennsylvania car seat laws are found in 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 4581. The law requires the person operating a passenger car, truck or another motor vehicle to ensure that children are transported in the appropriate restraint system.

What is the penalty for violating the Pennsylvania car seat law?

The penalty for violating the Pennsylvania car seat law is a set fine, plus court costs and fees. A driver may receive a citation for each child that is improperly restrained, per incident.

Source: PA Department of Transportation, Summary of Pennsylvania’s Child Passenger Protection Laws

A baby can sit forward-facing in PA when they are age two. (75 Pa.C.S.A. § 4581)

When can a child ride in the front seat in PA?

While there isn’t a specific age where a child is prohibited from being in the front seat, children should ride in the back seat until they are age 13. A young child in the front seat, especially in a rear-facing car seat is in extreme danger in the event of a crash, especially when airbags are deployed.

Never put a baby rear-facing in the front seat. Never put a child in a car seat in the front seat, unless there is no other choice. In that event, move the child as far back as possible.

Is a child seat violation a primary offense in PA?

A car seat violation is a primary offense in PA. That means law enforcement can write a ticket for the car seat violation even if they don’t suspect any other wrongdoing.

What are the seat belt laws for children in PA?

Children from age 8-18 must always wear a seat belt while in a passenger car, truck or motor home. The seat belt must be properly adjusted and fastened. A violation is an offense punishable by a fine.

How do seat belt laws for adults compare to children?

Adults must wear a seat belt when they are driving or in the front seat of a car, truck or motor home. There are exceptions for verified medical reasons and delivery drivers traveling at low speeds and making frequent stops. Children must wear their seat belt no matter where they are seated in the vehicle.

Accidents Involving Child Car Seats

Pennsylvania statutes § 4581 directly addresses the impact of failing to use a child safety restraint system when a car accident occurs. Specifically, failing to use a car or booster seat is not contributory negligence. It can’t be admitted as evidence at all – so it’s not evidence to mitigate damages, either.

Lawyers for Car Accidents Involving Car Seats

Have you or your child been involved in a car accident? At Luschas, Naparsteck & Crane, LLP, we are experienced car accident lawyers. Let us help you evaluate your situation including how a car seat or car seat issues may impact your claim. Contact us for a free consultation at (570) 802-3500.

Get in touch with us today to get started with your FREE case review. We’re only a call, click, or short drive away.